was a man of wisdom, faith
Bailey McBride BAILEY MCBRIDE | THE CHRISTIAN CHRONICLE
The death of Mladen Jovanovic
was a terrible shock to his
wife, Dragica, his
two sons, his
daughter, the church in Zagreb, and churches in the United States and Europe.
I first met Mladen when he came to Oklahoma Christian University to serve as visiting missionary for one semester.
taught a Bible class and a course in linguistics.
He was a hard-working teacher who made a powerful impression on his students.
A few years later he
returned to OC when one of his
sons was preparing to graduate.
On that visit, he
traveled almost every weekend to various churches to tell the story of Croatian evangelism.
met many people around the United States and told about the Croatian churches' struggle to have legal identity with the government.
was one of those amazing people who always made others feel that he
was their lifelong friend.
was open and caring in ways that elicited respect and honor.
We knew that Mladen
had sometimes moved his
family to Graz, Austria, to protect them from the war raging in and around Zagreb.
Joy arranged for us to travel to Graz to meet Mladen
, who traveled there to record the radio broadcasts that had introduced Zagreb and the surrounding territories to the Churches of Christ.
We had dinner with Mladen
and learned more about the situation the nations were facing.
Many people were turning to God as the troubles increased.
Our time with Mladen
was short, but we saw that all the fighting was only strengthening his
faith and his
resolve to preach Christ.
In 2005, at the Pan-European Lectures
in Warsaw, Poland, Mladen
and Dragica were there.
Twenty years earlier, the Jovanovics had lived in Warsaw, and Mladen served as professor of linguistics at the University of Warsaw.
worked diligently at the university, but he
also shared his
invited students to his
house for Bible study and worship.
and Dragica had led many to Christ, and they served as mentors and shepherds to the believers.
Before the lectureship began, Mladen
had contacted as many of his
former students as he
could and invited them to a reunion.
Many of his
former students came and brought their families to meet a favorite professor.
At worship on Sunday, many of those people met with the church to hear Mladen
I remember one older lady who came carrying a leather Bible that Mladen
had given her
At the end of the worship service, one of the men stood up and talked about the closeness to God he
had experienced when he
studied and worshiped with the Jovanovic family.
once explained to me why the family had left Poland and returned to Yugoslavia.
Dragica and Mladen
had great concern for their families and their countrymen who did not know God.
They went home to teach and lead their people to Christ.
and Dragica traveled the United States early each year to report in person about the growth of the Zagreb church.
Afterward, the Walkers opened their home to Mladen
and Dragica each year when they were in Oklahoma City.
Since that time, a dinner with the Walkers, the Jovanovics and McBrides became a ritual.
We all learned so much about the communication skills, wisdom and faith of Mladen
Heaven has gained a great servant and leader.
Related story: Croatian church leader Mladen Jovanovic dies at 68